Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy Vita Review

The Playstation Vita continues to chug along while its relevance as a major handheld console continues to dwindle. For anyone who is a fan of JRPGs or pandering, almost pornographic Anime aesthetics, Sony’s commercial failure of a handheld has continued to cater to that specific demographic. It is fortunate, then, if you happen to be a part of that demographic, as the quantity and quality of releases have turned out to be solid experiences, creepy art style or not.

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is another traditional RPG with another traditional Anime look, though this one is far more tolerable despite a few busty ladies and monsters (or is perhaps enhanced by it, depending who you are). Compared to developer Experience, Inc.’s previous Vita release, Demon Gaze, New Tokyo Legacy is much better at restraining its fanservice to tell a more serious plot filled with mysterious murders, government cover-ups and underground demons.

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The story begins with the player’s custom character waking up in an underground sewer, where violent creatures known as Variants have been kidnapping and murdering people, particularly students from Hinowa Academy. After narrowly avoiding certain death, the player is rescued by fellow student Alice, who is part of a secret group known as the Xth Squad. Sensing the hidden gifts of the character, Alice recruits the player to join the group in order to uncover the mysteries behind the Variants’ actions, as well as that of an enigmatic group.

New Tokyo Legacy is a Dungeon Crawler RPG, recently popularized by titles such as Etrian Odyssey and Legacy of Grimrock. Often considered the most hardcore type of RPG, the goal is to micromanage a team of party members and navigating labyrinthine dungeons, slowly filling out parts of the map while earning items and exp from random enemies. Usually, the party roster is customized by players, though the game offers a predetermined party that can later be adjusted to suit the player’s needs (or replaced by their own created characters).

Much of the gameplay is focused on meticulously managing party members. Each character can be given a specific role, such as frontline damage or back row healing, in addition to several other techniques that can either damage enemies or support teammates. These formations are crucial to navigating dungeons and fighting off enemies; in classic RPG fashion, players and enemies each take their turns in full, with one side completing all of their actions at once and the other side doing the same. For the first few hours, simply spamming attacks are enough to get by, but eventually players will need to change up their tactics while also upgrading their characters.

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There are numerous ways to upgrade said characters, all of which are done at the Xth Squad’s HQ. From there, numerous actions can be accessed through the main menu. Players can have wounded party members rest up, which is also required in order to level them up once they’ve achieved the required exp. Items, weapons and armor can also be procured in the main shop, or crafted from collected materials. There are even options to respec characters, or create new ones to join the dungeon crawling.

The dungeons themselves are also filled with numerous systems, including traps, hidden passageways and other specific factors. One part of the room can seal the team’s ability to cast magic, while another part features a hidden pathway that can be detected by a party member with the required ability. There are also item chests that are booby trapped, but can be safely opened with the right party member. In a cue taken from Dark Souls, players can use the networking feature of the game to leave messages to help clue other players on where to go or what to look out for.

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If this all sounds a bit daunting, it’s because it is. While the game does offer tutorials for its numerous mechanics, it requires an enormous amount of patience and commitment from players. For those who stick by its methodical pace, Tokyo Legacy can offer a rewarding amount of content and customization, as well as an interesting story filled with numerous characters both eccentric and enigmatic (in one of the game’s strangest portrayals, one of the high school’s faculty members bares a striking resemblance to Bill Cosby, with a voiceover to match. It may be safe to assume this portrayal was done before the recent allegations against the comedian became widespread).

For the pen-and-paper RPG enthusiast who likes to create their own characters down to the smallest detail (from party role to personality trait) as well as discover every nook and cranny in a gigantic dungeon, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy offers a lengthy and solid experience. For those who may find the game too daunting, try to stick with it after a few hours in the hopes that its numerous mechanics and micromanagement requirements end up clicking.

6 out of 10
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